Country Song Production [Case Study]
Austen Ledley, an experienced singer-songwriter, had been working on a 4-track EP. He got in touch with Supreme Tracks, boutique online recording studio, looking for country song production. He’d also listened our Nashville session musicians and thought they were phenomenal – particularly the country, blues and Americana guitars. As he said, “I’d love to have that energy and spirit on my songs!”
One of Austen’s tracks was Sunlight.
He wanted a simple singer-songwriter vibe – “an acoustic core but with some beauty and sonic space behind it”. Austen sent us the demo – his own vocals with acoustic guitar – and asked for our input on which instrumentation would best suit the mood of the track.
Here’s an excerpt from the demo sent by Austen.
How we worked – The collaboration process
First, Austen’s demo was sent to one of the world’s most celebrated Nashville session musicians for his creative input. We can’t tell you who this is – it’s the anonymity that keeps our prices so low – but you’d know the name…
Our guy was really impressed. “Great songs, I really enjoyed listening. They’ll sound amazing with the cats I have in mind”.
For Sunlight, he suggested the following set-up: acoustic guitar, upright bass, fiddle, piano, mandolin and banjo. To keep costs low, the guitar player would overdub banjo and the fiddle player would overdub mandolin. To make the song radio-friendly, he also advised cutting the intro section in half.
Austen loved these ideas and gave us a green light to proceed.
But first we had to get proper guide vocals from Austen to use as a guide for remote recording sessions. Band leader made an arrangement sketch for Sunlight on keyboards, which we sent to Austen to record guide vocals over. Sunlight sounded good, even at this early stage. Have a listen…
By this time, our session leader had “aligned the stars” to get everyone together in the studio – members of a multiple Grammy-award winning band, players on a multitude of #1 hits. We did a recording session and got 4 songs done in one day, including Sunlight.
The preview of studio recording was sent to Austen. Take a listen …
Just a couple of hours later we received his verdict: “So… This is the best thing I’ve ever heard. I’m currently in shock”.
Given the strength of the melodic line, we thought it would be great to end the track with acapella singers. We suggested the idea to Austen and gave him a quote for recording backup vocalists – a fraction of the `real world’ studio price. He came back to us: “That’s within my budget. Let’s do it!”
With recording session completed and approved by Austen, we were ready to mix and master the song. We worked with Austen on a couple of mix balance changes – mainly bringing the instrumentalists forward in the mix and allowing them to shine. Other than that, mixing and mastering went smoothly and were completed in a couple of days.
So here’s finished recording of Sunlight. It’s a fantastic song by very talented artist, arranged, recorded and produced by the best session musicians.
Shortly after this, Austen got his first FM radio play. Several publishing companies are interested in his songs, and he’s already been asked if one of his tracks can be used on an indie movie soundtrack. He told us that after hearing the recorded instrumentalists for the first time “it gave me the confidence to record some of the best vocals of my career”.
Through Supreme Tracks, Austen was given access to the A-list Nashville session musicians – something he would never be able to get on his own. Their creative and musical input took an already great songwriter to a whole new production level.
He also managed to save a lot of money, as our country song production cost significantly less than the regular Nashville production prices.